World Vision Mali
article • Tuesday, October 21st 2014

Corridor of death in Bangui paediatric hospital

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Sylvain is one of the many children being treated at the Bangui paediatric hospital. He was accidentally burnt by cooking oil.

The day after my arrival in Bangui (the capital of the Central African Republic, and its biggest city), I visited Bangui’s Hopital Communautaire Pédiatrique, where I saw hundreds of children affected by the war.

I had never seen such a horrible scene. The ward was filled with children who suffered third-degree burns, gunshot wounds, amputated limbs. Some lay in a coma or convulsing. Others were terribly malnourished. Countless of them could not receive appropriate care due to the hospital’s limited resources.

I returned to the hospital after four days. Two of the five children I wanted to visit had already died from severe malnutrition or disease.

I returned to the hospital after four days. Two of the five children I wanted to visit had already died from severe malnutrition or disease.

Dr. Koshkomba, the deputy director of the hospital, told me: “we do not have enough equipment to treat the hundreds children we receive every day. The number of malnourished children is increasing because displaced families do not have food to feed their children. The hospital only counts seven doctors to treat about 400 children per day. We do not have oxygen pipes to treat the premature infants. Parents cannot afford to pay for lab analysis for their children and just stay by their side until they witness the death of their loved children. We are living a nightmare in this hospital.”

I met Yambe, a 19-year-old mother. She is severely malnourished and cannot breastfeed Josue, her 3-month-old baby who is also malnourished. Yambe still walks around in shock since watching armed factions murder her husband. She was pregnant when she fled home and gave birth at the Internally Displaced Persons camp at Bangui Airport. Yambe has no family to help her once the hospital discharges her and Josue.   

I met Dieu-merci, a six-year-old boy with an amputated leg. The child suffered from malaria. Fearful of the armed group in their area, his family decided to treat him at home, rather than journey to the hospital. His improper treatment with a used syringe caused gangrene. By the time Dieu-Merci’s mother felt safe enough to bring him here, it was too late. Dieu-merci’s leg was badly infected and had to be amputated.

By the time Dieu-Merci’s mother felt safe enough to bring him here, it was too late. Dieu-merci’s leg was badly infected and had to be amputated.

I also met Wandhilika, a five-year-old girl suffering from epilepsy. According to family culture and long-held beliefs, Wandhilika was treated with boiling water to cure the epilepsy. Unfortunately, the traditional doctor burned the little girl until she fainted. Today, 70 percent of her legs and arms are burned.

I met many other desperate, sick children who are waiting for medicine, lab analysis, medical equipment, care, and food. The hospital is helpless and deprived.

“We need assistance from NGOs, donors, generous people to provide medicine, equipment, healthcare and food to the children of Central Africa,” says Dr Koshkomba. “They did not ask for this war and yet they are the first victims. We cannot continue looking at them dying every day and do nothing to assist them. We are in a hospital not a corridor of death. Please help them.” 

World Vision is working with children in CAR to help protect them from the impact of war. Our staff are providing food and other essential items to families who have been affected by the fighting, plus we are distributing food to pupils at schools who otherwise may not be able to eat.

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